Subhash Goyal - STIC Travel Group & President




The Chairman – STIC Travel Group & President – Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Mr. Subhash Goyal highlights the recent trends of Indian tourism in an exclusively with TTW. He sheds light on tourism that follows proper Corporate Social Responsibility and extends a sustainable tourism to the travellers.






Conversation
TTW – Being in the legacy for years where do you see the developments of India tourism have come up till now? And where do you see it in the coming years?

Subhash Goyal : The scene of Indian Tourism is very optimistic. Initially the beginning was very disturbing because of global economic slowdown, terror threats, natural calamities, negative publicity in global media because of reports about safety of tourists in India (special single women tourists/ women tourists), lack of civil governance, high tax structure in India for tourism sector, no priority to tourism in the central and state budget, lack of trained man power, high hotel rates and high air tickets cost etc. But it seems there is a serious thinking to revive the tourism industry and even the Planning Commission has given priority to tourism by recommending higher outlay for tourism sector to improve infrastructure and Skill Development Programmes, global marketing and boosting domestic tourism.

If things are taken care earnestly I am confident, India will be the most sought often destination. Also the variety and unique experience which India offers, no other country can offer and that too at an affordable cost. India is the destination of the future.

 

 

TTW – Tourism has changed and being the most lucrative business, how the hoteliers and the tour operating agencies have helped the growth of tourism till date.

Subhash Goyal : The business seems good, but at present functioning in a complex environment under much pressure. The growing fiscal deficit is a matter of concern. Tax authorities are becoming increasingly aggressive. The soon to be introduced Goods and Service Tax (GST) as expected to be a game changer so the growth is a bit slow. But tourism has great resilience power, It will bounce back once Rupee stabilizes against US dollar and tourism gets a priority in Government Policy and Planning process. Still tourism is maintaining 3 to 4% growth as compared to last year for the corresponding period Jan-July 2013 and this is quite good for tourism.

 

 

TTW: What are the latest trends of tourism that have made the industry and the business see a boost?

Subhash Goyal : The latest trend that boosted tourism growth include:-

I. India became cheaper comparatively due to appreciation of US$ against rupee and packages are as competitive as on offer from our competitive countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore etc.
II. There is more demand for Experiential Tourism and India abounds in such offerings in each state with focus as Rural Tourism experience.
III. Wildlife and Adventure Tourism has over taken the usual Cultural tourism for which India used to attract tourists. Eco tourism is now the trend and India’s offerings are globally acceptable.
IV. Medical and Wellness tourism and Ayurvedic Spa treatments at India Natural Resorts in India
V. Cruise Tourism

VI. MICE Tourism- More and more conference and Conventions are now coming to India at regular intervals
VII. Festival and Fairs and Spiritual Tourism
VIII. Shopping- unique shopping heritage
IX. Luxury Rail Journeys – Life time experience
X. Maharaja or Royal Holidays/ Royal livings (Incentive tours)

On all these components, India has better choice than many competitive countries. So India is the right choice for tourists and in all these segments, a visible increase of tourist arrivals noticed.

 

 

TTW: There had been a shift from agency tour booking to online trade booking. How much this has affected the business trends of the tour operators and how it has enhanced the growth of tourism business?

Subhash Goyal : Yes, Online booking is getting popular. It appears, the new breed of Techno Savvy travelers feel more comfortable with using the internet as a convenient and credible resources. So there is a surge in hotel searchers and interest in a much wider mix of international flights and accommodation to over 1000 destinations. It has become so popular that it gives an impression that regular Tour Operators (Offline ones) are in danger. But to speak frankly, the online portal’s are not at all a threat to regular tour operators as the market is expanding and both thus can co- exist. The Online portals through their constant and attractive advertising may reach the masses and tempt the clients to take holidays, the neighborly tour operators are now even popular with their personal touch and direct PR with open approach to the clients.

 

 

TTW: Corporate Social Responsibility is a major field while doing any business. How the tourism incorporates proper CSR.

Subhash Goyal : CSR is part of tourism business and our partners value the same. As IATO, we have been rising on the occasions with physical and financial support whenever and wherever the occasion needed our help be for flood, earth quake, be in Orissa, Gujarat, Uttarakhand by establishing relief camps, mobile hospitals, food shelters, providing tents and utensils and running schools and even Green efforts by sampling trees etc.

Many members collect funds and set up camps of their own in deep interior, organize blood donation camps and by giving employment to physically challenged people, women in distress. IATO has shown the way to other associations how one can be Social Responsible and do one’s bit, however small it may be so C.S.R is in our blood and we do that sincerely in Tourism fraternity regularly.

 

 

TTW: MICE industries are on rise. How the MICE industries have helped the growth of tourism?

Subhash Goyal : It is a very important segment of Indian Tourism. Nearly 25% of inbound tourism is more or less related to MICE/ Business Tourism. Now in India state like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi, West Bengal and Gujarat have regular Convention Centre with capacity from 1000-4000 at one go. This will be the major source of Indian Tourism business as India is strategically located in world map and can service MICE business both in Europe and Asia and we have fully trained people, state of art hotels, airports, entertainment, Pre/Post tours to supplement MICE business operators and all supporting facilities like simultaneous translations in various languages Press Relations etc.

 

 

TTW: What are your take on providing sustainable tourism to the travelers?

Subhash Goyal : New breed of tourists are very keen to see that the destinations they visit have sustainable tourism guidelines How effective the destination with Sewage treatment, water harvesting, Energy saving norms, Local community involvement, Respect to nature, protection of Tribal heritage, Old Heritage Monuments, wildlife protection law, Regulatory norms to visit eco-sensitive areas and local culture. As IATO we have adopted Sustainable Tourism Criteria (Based on global Sustainable Tourism Criteria) and try to observe these norms to the best possible. It is more a Self Regulatory than government enforcement. Our business comes out of the Natural environment so we need to be careful and respectful to the natural surroundings while conducting tours in eco-sensitive zones. We lost business when due to over use Uttarakhand disaster took place and that lesson made us to be more responsible for Sustainable Tourism. We inform Do’s and Don’ts to each traveler before we take tourists to eco-sensitive areas.

 

 

TTW: Digital media has made mark in upholding tourism worldwide. How the digital media marketing and media itself have taken care of the tourism business?

Subhash Goyal : Travel Service providers should use Technology because it is available to the industry/corporate who also have access to whole lot of information on what sort of thematic event can be done. Through digital technology, the relationship is developed and it matters a lot in business. Such platforms help to put a face to each other, to engage with each other, where networking, talking to each other and exploring possibilities take place. It is now “Must to be adopted” as marketing tools in tourism business. This is the style of doing modern day business operations.

 

 

TTW: There has been a sudden fall in rupee. How this is going to affect tourism and tourist traffic?

Subhash Goyal : Yes but it has more positive side also so far as Inbound tourism is concerned. The collapsing rupee against the US dollar has hit foreign travels plans by domestic tourists but has brought upswing for the inbound travel market. Especially the foreign tourists who were already in India had a very pleasant holidays with extended holiday over and above the itinerary they came and also spent liberally for shopping. One good thing happened due to fall in the value of rupee which provided India cost advantage. Traditionally countries like Thailand, Hong-Kong and Malaysia have had an edge over India because of lower air ticket, lower accommodation packages and ground transportation costs. With the fall of rupee, this gap between India and these countries has shrunk. It appears India is now cheaper by virtue of the current rate of exchange and that boosts inbound tourism. Form cost prohibitive destination, it has became a “affordable destination” and it appears September – November period will see a big boosts and we can expect double digit growth in inbound traffic. There is continuous increase in inquiries from various markets including those markets which are not our traditional markets like Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta etc.

 

 

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